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Fourth-grade teacher debunks the claim that teachers only work '8 to 9 months per year'

A teacher shared his salary, people pointed out that even babysitters and baristas are paid more.

Fourth-grade teacher debunks the claim that teachers only work '8 to 9 months per year'
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Fauxels

Teaching is one of the toughest jobs. Educators craft detailed curricula, teach complex concepts, and often act as unofficial psychologists for their students. Despite their hard work, they are often underpaid. Statistics show that many teachers in the US face low wages and heavy workloads. One fourth-grade teacher, Kyle Cohen (@mr.kylecohen), has gained attention for highlighting this issue.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | max fischer
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Max Fischer

Based in Cleveland, Ohio, Kyle Cohen, known affectionately as “Mr. Cohen” by his students, holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and leadership studies from Ohio State University. He also served for two years with Teach For America. In October 2021, he posted a video revealing a typical teacher’s salary.

"In my first year of teaching, I taught at a charter school here in Cleveland, Ohio, and I made $31,000 as a fourth-grade teacher with a class of 16 students with a wide range of special needs, and I had my college degree and experience," he said in the video which has now crossed 1.2 million views.

Image Source: TikTok | @thebusinesskid
Image Source: TikTok | @thebusinesskid

While some people supported Cohen’s plight, others believed that he was being paid appropriately. @matthewpaley took Cohen's side and commented, “Teachers deserve better!” @mrsannewalker disclosed her own salary, saying it was unfortunate, “My first year, I made $31,000 teaching in east Los Angeles with a 7th grade English class of 46 kids and 2 ESL classes of almost 40 kids.” @dr_bassius, a university professor, said he only made “$23,000."

Image Source: TikTok | @dirtymomsbookclub
Image Source: TikTok | @dirtymomsbookclub

On the flip side, @ty14ty14 commented, “But you knew what you signed up for.” The situation turned outrageous when a person, who goes on TikTok as @mikekarpinski291, commented, “You work 8-9 months in a year.” Cohen ripped this statement with a follow-up video, where he brilliantly demonstrated the concise math that goes behind the work of a teacher. The video picked up over 4 million views.

“I work from about 7 to 5, which is roughly 10 hours a day, multiply that by five, because there are five days in a week, that is 50 hours, multiply that by 4 which is about 200 hours that I work a month,” he explained. “I am also going to add 10 additional hours per week, because if I look at my calendar, I have a lot of meetings and events, and things like that that as a fourth-grade teacher, I am required to attend.” He continued by saying that these additional 10 hours were just the minimum he was calculating, given the tasks of lesson planning, grading, plus communication with co-workers, families, and administration. He said it’d turn out to be roughly 240 hours a month.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Kyle Cohen, M.Ed. (@mr.kylecohen)


Cohen then calculated his hourly pay. He estimated dedicating about 2,160 hours per year to teaching. With a $31,000 salary, this meant he earned about $14 per hour, which he called “ridiculous.” For context, ZipRecruiter reports that the average hourly pay for a McDonald's employee in the US is $15.55, and a survey by BabySits found that babysitters charge an average of $15.84 per hour. Cohen’s situation is unfortunately common among teachers in America.

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A post shared by Kyle Cohen, M.Ed. (@mr.kylecohen)


"I don’t want to come off as ungrateful. I’m not ungrateful because I absolutely love what I do, and I would not trade being an educator for anything. I am incredibly grateful to be in this field," he said. "But what I am hoping we have conversations about is the fact that teachers who are ‘only working for eight to nine months of the year’ are being paid inappropriately for the amount of work that they are doing." The video struck a chord in his fellow TikTokers who jumped in with supportive statements in the comment section. “Not to mention Sunday is spent time planning for the next week,” said @crazyin3rd. @b_kudz8 expressed annoyance, “Why do teachers ‘always’ have to prove they’re doing something right? We work hard regardless & deserve to be paid like it.”

Image Source: TikTok | @heyyitsmeg
Image Source: TikTok | @heyyitsmeg

Cohen took a stand, but not many teachers go to such lengths to fight for their profession. They just quit. So, Cohen just hoped to inspire other educators to take a step forward and make an attempt to change their reality. "My hope in making these videos is to start some real conversations. Our teachers (and students) deserve the best, and it is the unfortunate reality that we are far from making this dream a reality," he told Buzzfeed.

You can follow Mr. Cohen on TikTok and Instagram for more teaching-related content.

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